Saturday, 19 July 2008

Maths - How students perceive it

What is it that makes mathematics difficult to understand?

The fact may be due to the many symbols used to represent the maths operations and expression or equations.

An example is the operator "x". This tells the student it represents the operation "multiply". If the student does not understand the function of this symbol or, worst, does not know this symbol, how can the student be expected to do the multiplication?

To the students, the symbols are basically graphical in nature. They may perceive them to be "static", or, for the mathematically-inclined, "alive".

Therefore for students to understand maths, they have first to understand the way maths is being presented.

Symbols like "log X", "tan P" and "2 - i6" are some examples of more complex presentations.

Students must understand the true meaning of this way of presentation before they can reduce the barrier for actual mathematical calculation / operation.

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